CAG Board Members

  • Michael Pouncil, Chair
  • Doug Larson
  • Sarah Taylor

Presenters and Panelists

  • DEQ
  • Lauren Wirtis, Host
  • Erin McDonnell
  • Dan Hafley
  • Mike Poulsen
  • Rebecca Wells-Albers
  • Laura Knudsen, EPA
  • Katy Weil, Metro
  • Dwight Leisle, Port of Portland

Estimated Number of Participants: 29

Michael Pouncil


June 10 – Community Leaders Meeting – location TBA

July 8 – CAG will host a session for the Information Management Plan for the City of Portland – we will address how to create an information portal for the Willamette River Superfund Cleanup.

Lauren Wirtis – via Adobe Connect: the presentation part of this meeting will be recorded and will be available online.


Erin McDonnell, Project manager DEQ Willamette Cove Upland Cleanup

This project is separate from the in-water part of the cleanup.

  • What is the Problem? – industrial activities over 100 years in Willamette Cove. Plywood mill, dry dock, copper/wood barrel manufacturing facility. The harbor includes 3000 feet of shoreline. By the 1970s industrial work ceased but some old infrastructure has remained along with toxins. Metro purchased the Cove in the 1990’s and has plans for a nature park with a regional trail. There is extensive contamination in-water and upland. Dioxins, metals, PCB’s etc.
  • Regulatory Oversight: EPA is the oversight org for in-water. DEQ is responsible for the upland cleanup.
  • Metro and the Port of Portland joined into voluntary agreement in 2000 to investigate remedial options and consideration of future uses of the site. Partial removal of hotspots was done in 2015-16. This reduced the amount of contaminates but some contamination remains posing a risk to humans, plants and animals. Hotspots pose a very high risk. Dioxins are present throughout the site.
  • People at risk: children, recreational users, homeless campers, construction workers.
  • How did DEQ get to a cleanup plan? There have been two feasibility studies conducted (most recently in April 2019) which looked at remedial options – excavation and removal, capping, chemical treatment, bioremediation, thermal remediation. Dioxins, metals, PCB’s tend to be resistant to treatment methods.
  • How will remediation affect the neighboring community and where the trucks are going.
  • Regulatory issues:
  • Will this end with protection for humans and for the environment?
  • Will it be effective?
  • Can it be implemented?
  • Long-term reliability?
  • Cost effectiveness?

Proposal: Remove hotspots (very high risk contaminates). Consolidate and cap majority of remailing contaminated soil, place clean soil cover as needed. Anything that remains that contains a risk to humans or the environment will be buried in a consolidation area, capped (engineer-designed) with long-term maintenance. If additional hotspots are found those will follow the removal plan. The site will then be covered with clean soil for plant growth. The thickness of the cover will be based on the risk level of what remains in that location. The intention is to make the cove upland look like a park, add vegetation and will include comprehensive remedial, site-wide sampling.

Erin McDonnell can be contacted: 503-229-6900 or

Also, comments can be emailed to

The DEQ public comment period for this project ends June 30. Michael Pouncil is requesting an extension, DEQ is considering extending the public comment end-date past June 30.


Q: Estimate for how much soil needs removal?

A: About 23,000 cubic yds, hotspot areas is much smaller than that.

Q: Will the consolidation area be lined?

A: No. A demarcation over the top of the consolidation area will be designed by engineers and capped.

Q: What type of contaminates will remain on site in the consolidation area?

A: All hot spots will be removed.

Q: why are you proposing consolidation for the Cove when Terminal 4 proposal had widespread community protest?

A: This is a balanced effort to remove the highest levels of contamination off-site. The rest will be consolidated because there’s a risk of moving contaminated soil and moving it.

Q: Park?

A: A nature park and a bond measure passed for a trail. Not a playground.

Q: The south shore appears to have built-out after the railroad was built.

A: The site was originally wetland and grassland. The RR bridge was built in early 1900s.

There is a riverbank cleanup planned by EPA.

Q: Would DEQ support full-scale remediation of all of those compounds if it looks possible?

A: If technology emerges to treat the contaminates successfully DEQ will look into them. Cleanup levels have to meet DEQ standards for safety to humans, animals, environment.

Q: Covering contaminated soil with clean soil – has there been a cost-benefit analysis to remove all toxins, truck it out, bring in new clean soil?

A: One alternative considered is complete removal, somewhat by barge. The volumes are big for full removal, and expensive. Both barge and truck removal involve potential risks.

Q: Consolidation site: would burrowing animals pose a risk?

A: The cap will be designed to prevent burrowing animals. They’d have to burrow down to 2 feet. The cap is also designed to withstand wear and tear from humans and animals and will include a long-term maintenance plan.

Q: DEQ risk numbers are higher for homeless campers at the site than recreational users?

A: Yes, they have a longer-term exposure.

Q: Access to the river is not a part of the proposed plan?

A: Yes, correct. The river and riverbank cleanup are under the supervision of EPA. They’re not completely separate but they do have different teams with different responsibilities.

Q: Who decides where the trails go?

A: Metro, the property owner. The trail will be on the upland portion of the site. There are no plans for river access at this time. That would be EPA’s oversight.

Q: Barges rather than trucks for removal?

A: DEQ has asked the Port of Portland to look into it. There are significant advantages to using barges. DEQ prefers barge. Looking into it.

Notes taken by Jane Terzis